The Hub – For Perfect Snacking After Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

We know, thanks to all of your lovely feedback, that a trip to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions can give you quite the appetite. So, I have taken it upon myself to go out and sample as many cakes and cups of tea as I can, in order to find you the perfect place to unwind after an amazing visit. It is a tough job, but someone has to do it!

So, who’s hungry? Let’s eat at The Hub.

I am very pleased to recommend our close neighbour, The Hub, as a perfect place to head after, or even in the middle, of a visit. That’s rights, with the all day ticket you can get a hand stamp on the way out and enjoy as much tea as you want, as many times as you want, and just keep coming back to bamboozle yourself again. And what’s more, visitors to Camera Obscura get a fantastic 10% discount on presentation of their ticket*.

Warning: The Vortex Tunnel is not your friend after copious amounts of cake!

The Hub?

Locals will know this as the tall, dark tower at the top of the Royal Mile. Originally built in the 1840s, the building is a “stunning combination of award winning contemporary design and classic Victorian architecture”. Originally used as an assembly room by the Church of Scotland, it is now home to the Edinburgh International Festival and a brilliant cafe.



What is on offer at The Hub Cafe?

Focused on delicious Scottish fair, the lunch menu includes soups, sandwiches or even a taste of haggis, neeps and tatties. Plenty of barista hot drinks and juice will keep you hydrated, but my personal recommendation would have to be the afternoon tea for two. I think calling it afternoon tea is selling it short! Fresh rolls with salmon and dill or ham and mustard, salad, scones with jam and cream, biscuits and so many cakes I can’t remember all of their names. My advice; skip lunch and move onto afternoon tea immediately!



It’s great value for gourmet food, even before the Camera Obscura discount, which makes it even tastier. I guarantee the perfect scones will knock your socks off.

So, I think you have your plan for the weekend. Head into Camera Obscura in the morning for the best views of the day on your guided tour, get lost in the exhibitions, grab a gift fro someone in the most unique shop on the Royal Mile (not a kilt in sight!) and then finish off the afternoon in the gorggeous surrounds of another historic Edinburgh building with the best afternoon tea you’ll find this side of the Flodden Wall.

And if you’re not at Camera Obscura but still want to visit? You can’t miss it. The top of the spire is the highest point in the entire city.

*conditions apply

Quote: taken from


Written by Alyce Paton


Dragons and Egg Slime and Bags, Oh My! What’s new in the Camera Obscura Shop…

Whether you’re planning a trip here or live in Edinburgh, there’s no need to have a ticket to look around our gift shop. Weird and wonderful gifts and souvenirs abound! Here are some of the new products we have in stock…

Rescue Kits


Haven’t you always wanted your own dragon? Or sock monkey, zombie, alien, yeti, or Bigfoot? (That’s a rhetorical question.) Well, give one a home today when you pick up one of our rescue kits, containing the orphaned creature and a guide to caring for it.



Write your worries on a little piece of paper before zipping it away in the worry-eater’s mouth for him to chew on. Alternatively, hugging it or simply looking at it to be amused by its weirdness makes you feel better.


Scratch and Sketch Books

IMG_8305 - small

These brilliant notebooks for creative types contain black-coated pages that can be scratched away with the stylus to produce designs in multicolour or gold or silver. They even contain drawings that you can copy if your imagination needs a little encouragement! Choose from a variety of titles including Travel Scratch and Sketch, Monsters Scratch and Sketch, and Dragons and Mythical Creatures Scratch and Sketch.

3D Bags

Cartoon Bags Launch - SMALL

Yes, all bags are 3D, but these are a little odd – more like 3D objects trying to look 2D trying to look 3D. These cartoon-style handbags are so unusual that you’ll be unlikely to ever see anyone with the same one.

Smiley Jumpers


These are adorable. The mesh body can be squashed down so it jumps six feet in the air.



We have added to our selection of shortbread with mini Scottie dog shortbread, Belgian chocolate chunk shortbread, and a rather classy steam engine tin. Ideal gifts. (Or ideal snacks for you.)

Egg Slime


The rubber chickens that ‘lay eggs’ have always been a popular choice in the shop. Now, though, and perhaps even more disgusting, we have slime that looks like a fried egg. Just don’t eat it!

Our shop is open every day from 10am-6pm. That’s plenty of time for you to come along and grab some of these fantastic new products for yourself (or someone else!).

Penguin on Parade at Camera Obscura

You might have already seen on Facebook or Twitter that we found a lost penguin here at Camera Obscura. Don’t feel too sorry for her though – she’s had a great day out.

First, she made herself useful, and helped us at reception.


She even tried her hand at guiding in the Camera Obscura itself.



Then she started slacking off.

She had a look in the crazy mirrors.


She tried out the severed head.


She was very confused by the singing cats.


She couldn’t handle the Vortex tunnel.


And she got a little lost in the mirror maze.


Then she ran into a strange creature.


It was a dragon, and he came bearing gifts.


So they sat down for a nice cup of tea.


Then the dragon introduced her to more new friends, and they all lived happily ever after!



p.s. if this penguin belongs to you, give us a call on 0131 226 3709 to be reunited!


Written by Lauren Robertson

The Infrared Camera (Thermography)

Here at Camera Obscura you can find a (newly-updated) heat camera, which allows a unique view of your body by using infrared rays.

Thermal camera crop

(reference: author’s own)

Many of you may have already experienced our heat camera, but those yet to see it have something to look forward to. But what you may not realise is that infrared imaging (thermography) can be used as a method of assessment when conducting building surveys. In essence, by seeing the infrared image of a particular wall, doorway or window can highlight otherwise unseen conditions, thus bringing to attention any potential problems.


(reference: Historic Scotland)

What is thermography?

Thermography is the visualising of temperature across a surface, which is non-destructive, through the use of a thermal imaging camera that detects infrared radiation (IR). IR cameras work outside the visible light spectrum (which is 0.4-0.76 μm) but within the infrared light wavelengths of anywhere between 2 μm and 14μm 1

What can we use thermography for?

Well, aside from the spectacle of viewing the hot and cold spots on your face and body, thermography can be used in electrical inspections, military operations, medical or laboratory environments, finding the path of heating pipes underneath your floorboards, detecting areas of moisture or water infiltration on a building surface, detecting areas of heat loss through a building façade or assessing how well insulation is performing in roofs. 2

Image (2)

(ref: Historic Scotland)

In building surveys, it is often advantageous to overlay an image from the thermal camera on top of a regular photograph, to give a visual context of where the thermal image was taken.

Image (4)

(ref: HS again)

How to undertake a building survey (with thermography)

It is necessary to heat the room to be investigated before undertaking a thermography survey, in order to achieve the best results. In normal conditions, there would be little temperature difference along any given surface, so heating the space for a recommended 24 hours beforehand is advised3. By creating a larger temperature difference between inside and outside allows evaporation of moisture to occur and the passing of heat through surfaces. The bigger the difference in temperature, the better the result will be.

Once the images have been taken, usually the presence of dampness and moisture can be seen immediately, or if imaging roof structures, areas where excessive heat is escaping are easily detected.

Different codes

The majority of thermal images, such as those produced by our thermal camera, use the ‘rainbow’ method of coding, whereby hottest areas are red/white (hence the term red hot) and the coolest areas are blue/black. This code helps to highlight areas of moisture. Other codes include ‘iron’, which is normally used when analysing energy efficiency through heat loss, or a simple greyscale, from black to white.


(reference: author’s own)

There is a wealth of information out there on this topic, and it this blog entry is a mere summation of thermography uses outside of Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. Thanks must be given to Maureen Young from Historic Scotland who gave a great presentation on this rich topic of thermography in building surveys at the Heritage Research Conference provided by Historic Scotland and RCAHMS (Feb 18th-19th), which acted as a catalyst for this entry.


Written by Mathew Reilly

Footnotes/references for text:

1. Young, M.;  Thermal Imaging in the Investigation of Solid Masonry Structures; The Building Conservation  Directory 2014 (Cathedral Communication Ltd.: Wiltshire, 2013), pp  46

2. IBID, pp 46

3. IBID, pp47